Monday, 16 November 2009


“Staggering,” is the best description I can give to the results of a survey published today by family lawyers at London law Firm, Mishcon de Reya. The study of over 4,000 parents was commissioned by the firm to mark the 20th anniversary of the Children Act, implemented in November 1989.

Whilst seventy per cent of parents quizzed by the law firm cited their child’s welfare as the main priority during separation, the results also showed that:
Children said they felt used (19 percent), isolated (38 percent) and alone (37 percent).
Many admitted they turned to drink and drugs, played truant from school or self harmed.
For 38 percent of children the separation meant they never saw their father again.
50 percent of parents admitted putting their children through an intrusive court process over access issues and living arrangements.
25 percent of parents surveyed believe that their child was so traumatised by their separation that they self harmed or contemplated suicide.
20 percent of separated parents admitted that they actively set out to make their partner's experience ‘as unpleasant as possible’ regardless of the effect this had on their children’s feelings.

Sandra Davis, head of family law at Mishcon de Reya , says that, “This research shows that despite their best intentions, parents are often using their children as emotional footballs. They don’t have the tools to co-parent effectively following separation and their only solution is to turn to the courts. Children – alongside the economy - are suffering because of this. The millions of pounds spent each year on Legal Aid, running the courts and CAFCASS could be better spent educating parents about their children’s needs and gaining an understanding of how to resolve and avoid long term disputes and reduce hostility.” In short there is a need to “protect children from the worst excesses of parental conflict. Therapeutic input, not litigation, is the answer and will reduce the emotional and financial cost of separation.”

Resolution has already started to try to tackle the problem with its Parents after Parting workshops and its dedicated webspace for parents. Government funding however is needed if family therapy centres are to be set up and counselling available for all who need it. As the survey shows, 64 percent of parents quizzed said that if counselling was available they would consider attending.

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